Nebraska, finally, is No. 1. 

No, not on the football field. It's time for radical acceptance of that fact, Husker fans. (See Chatelain, Dirk.)

But here's something to cheer off the field. In a ranking published last week by online lending firm LendingTree, Nebraska tops the list in places that are safest for young children. LendingTree based that determination on how well Nebraska scored in a number of areas, particularly these: Hospital density, air quality, high school graduation rate, housing costs as a percentage of income, child-care establishment density and percentage of households with children.

Nebraska achieved this overall first-place ranking despite scoring in the bottom fifth of states in this category: Child care costs as a proportion of household income (17.5%). Our household is almost out of paid childcare, but when that was a need for three children, I can attest that child-care cost more than our mortgage. LendingTree put Nebraska housing costs at 18.3% of income. (Iowa's 17.1% rate is lower; California had the highest rate at 26.4%.)

LendingTree analyzed other factors like rates of auto fatalities, violent crime, property crime and poverty. When the numbers were crunched, Nebraska edged out Iowa, No 2. Other states in the Top 10 included: New Hampshire, Vermont, North Dakota, Maine, New Jersey, Kentucky, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

I'd love to see this measure on a state ranking: Living in proximity to your parents and siblings. That and not the other stuff is what drew three of my four siblings back from Oakland, California; Portland, Oregon; and Chicago. The fourth sibling didn't need ruby slippers to know there was just no place like home.

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Metro columnist

Columnist Erin Grace has covered a variety of beats since she started at The World-Herald in 1998 — from education to City Hall and from the city's western suburbs to its inner-city neighborhoods. Follow her on Twitter @ErinGraceOWH. Phone: 402-444-1136.

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